Friday, May 18, 2012

If You Liked 50 Shades of Grey....

Allright y'all. I have a confession {well, not so much a confession as full disclosure}:

I read a lot of smut. Fanfiction, romance {not as much}, kink, whatever. I read it.

In the course of slogging my way through some awful stuff, I've found that there's a whole lot of very poorly written erotica out there. I mean terrible.

Unrealistic, awful use of words {um, how many creative names can we think of for male body parts?}, terrible verbiage. And don't get me started on all of the ways that tawdry writers can propagate stereotypes, gender inequity, and plain old bad sexual/medical information. It's a given that most stories will have some of these things in them because authors are people who have their own tastes and biases, but there are some hard lines I draw:

1. I have to buy into the characters and like them as people.
2. Sex scenes should be well-written and be fairly realistic.
3. If anyone uses the word "whore" or "bitch," I'm out.
4. Non-consent is a no-go. I understand consensual non-consent, but that has to be EXPLICITLY laid out somewhere.

Because 50 Shades of Gray is the newest {but not the most shocking!} erotic phenomenon out there, I thought I'd share some other options with those of you who enjoyed the series.

The Sleeping Beauty Series; Anne Roquelaure: This is a sort of, surreal series in which princes and princesses from all over the "world" must serve as "slaves" in this one Kingdom. In return, when they're released, they get friendship, an alliance, and support from the Kingdom. We follow "Sleeping Beauty" and a few other royals on their erotic journeys, including capture, release, and all sorts of antics in between. There are three books in this series, and these books are NOT for folks who don't enjoy a bit of kink in their reading. Although this is very clearly a fantasy, pretend setting, if things like ropes and whips squick you, steer clear {P.S. Did you know that Anne Roquelaure is a pen name for Anne Rice? Yup, the vampire lady}. If you were on the fence about the kink in 50 Shades, don't read this series.

The Pleasure House series; Kate Pearce: I am such a sucker for this series. I picked it up right after I finished the Sleeping Beauty Series and was hooked. Basically, the series starts with Madame Helene who runs a "pleasure house" in London. Note that "pleasure house" doesn't denote a brothel. Rather, it is an establishment where gentry can come act our their sexual fantasies in a safe, guarded, and consensual environment. We follow the entire family {Madame Helene, her long lost lover, her children who didn't know she ran a pleasure house, and on and on} in their escapades as they sort themselves out. What I like about this series is how sex positive it is. The focus is on being non-judgmental {including if the characters aren't into all of things offered at the pleasure house}, consensual and safe, and both men and women are expected/supposed to make their desires known and take control of their sexual health and choices. It's a little far-fetched {you know, because Sleepy Beauty up there isn't far-fetched} but likeable and easy to read. Warnings for this one include: some polyamory, some kinky stuff {cuffs, paddles, that sort of thing}, and some same-sex shenanigans.

The Hathaways; Lisa Kleypas: Set in Victorian England, we follow the Hathaways through their various journeys to marriage. I generally shy away from romance, but make an exception to this series because boy, can Lisa Kleypas write a good sex scene. Yes, she can. And, let me just say that the audiobooks are read incredibly well. This series is by far the least, erm, selective in it's tastes {sex is vanilla} but well written and I genuinely like the characters in here. The women are forthright and headstrong, which is something I'm definitely drawn to.

Of Sawdust and Seduction; Amy Valenti: Everything that Amy Valenti writes is very similar to 50 Shades of Grey because it was originally written as NCIS fanfiction. She was/is one of my favorite authors, and I would wait, and wait for her to update her chapters. Imagine my shock when I went back one day to read a favorite story only to find it had been taken down so that she could publish it. Her storylines are geared toward a Gibbs/Abby pairing {sorry if that spoiled it!} and are extremely well-written.

Some novels I didn't mention but are considered "classic" in the world of kinky literature:

The Story of O; Pauline Reage:I personally found it boring and tending toward the misogynistic side. With many of these style novels there is the idea/feeling that this is all a big sex game/for sexual pleasure to the participants, even if there are "contracts" and "ownership." I didn't get that vibe with this one and got the sense that it maybe wasn't consensual. However, many, many people {rational non-rapist people} disagree and think this book is the bees knees, so I'm including it so you can make your own choice.

Exit to Eden; Anne Rampling {also Anne Rice}: I mean, it was OK. The idea behind this one is that guests of a hotel can be dominant or submissive and do all sorts of things in that setting. After reading the Sleeping Beauty series, I wasn't super impressed, but looking back, that's probably because I tend to favor male dominant stories and this one has a female dominant. It does make me wonder, though, if I shouldn't go back and try again =).

What kinds of "smut" do you like to read? Anything I totally left off the list?

UPDATE: While looking for some new books myself, I found that Barnes and Noble's blog also has a list with novels different than mine. A few are already on my list to read!


  1. Okay, so if Amazon has The Sleeping Beauty Series, I'm about to get it and try it out. I'm into kinky-fuckery (LMAO)in my books, but just haven't read any because I didn't know where to look for them, lol

  2. Hahaha, great thoughts! I just blogged about 50 Shades of Grey myself. It is def not well written but it did hold my interest (though books 2 & 3 have not).I may need to check out these suggestions of yours, though!

  3. OOH I'll be looking into some of these series, thank you.


  4. Fifty Shades was officially my first 'smut' book.. and I think I could read more, but it would have to be the right genre. Thank you for reviewing all those series. It's interesting to hear what else is out there. Maybe romance is more my style? The whipping stuff is a little hard to take in. Anywho. Thanks for being brave & sharing!

  5. I just couldn't get into this series, but I'm glad so many other people seem to enjoy it!